Saturday, November 30, 2013

Wot's The Point?

Hi friends - you know last time I wrote a FB, I said I wouldn't go on as much and make things as brief as possible? Well, it hasn't happened . . . SORRY!

I recently found myself becoming a bit depressed about something photographic, and not being sure what it was and then putting brain to visual memory over the Summer, I came  to a conclusion.
It isn't pleasant reading for those of you who, like myself, tries to hold your head above the relentlessness of the digital tide. Yes I know I am involved in the digital tide simply by the nature of blogging, but short of running a full-blown Victorian cast-iron press and publishing a monthly Gentleman's Periodical [actually, that's a great idea] the quickest and easiest way I can get the things in my head out to the world at large is by using something useful like Blogger . . . digitalism isn't all bad.
My worries however are being cemented by something which ultimately will affect the way we see art, the permanence of image and the sheer physical beauty of the print, and it isn't pleasant at all, because almost overnight (well, OK then . . . over a couple of years) people like us, my friends of glass and silver, have been rendered virtually meaningless.
This is a big statement and I don't feel comfortable saying it, but I sort of reckon it is the truth.
If you are of a nervous disposition I would hide behind the settee now, because it is a biggie.
The Photograph is dead. Long Live The Photograph!
The death of our beloved friend has gone entirely unnoticed, however it has happened.
What? you are no doubt asking yourself. He's finally gone and done it. Nee-naw, nee-naw, nee-naw, get the straight jacket, get the tazer, and bring that paperwork.
But it is true.
It is so endemic, so spread in such a scatter-gun way, that even the concerned tinkerer with his DSLR and the weekend warrior with his strived-for compact are gone, swept away as meaningless and outdated. The DSLR is as stoneage a modern artefact to the act of image making as a folding 6x9 Voigtlander from the 1930's. All visual creation has been rendered virtually meaningless.
Don't believe me? Just use your eyes.
Go to any City Centre of a weekend (or any day of the week for that matter) and you'll see the digital usurper. You've probably got one beside you now. You might even be caressing it. Possibly you're not even speaking to your wife (what the hell are you thinking about?) because you're staring at it now. Your gadget has crept into your life and everything is different.
Good, you know where I am going, because I have managed to instill a bit of guilt about the fact that you spend way too much time on the thing.
My wife and I were recently luncheoning at The Central Bar in St Andrews (you do get a lovely pint there) and an American couple came in. Now obviously travelling from the States to the UK isn't cheap. Holidaying in Britain isn't by any stretch of the imagination cheap, so you would think they would want to make the most of it. But no. He checked some images on his DSLR, they placed their order with the bar-girl and then they both proceeded to spend pretty much the rest of their time staring at their phones and checking things out. Even when the meal was served they still continued in this rudeness . . and it is rudeness, and blind pig-ignorance.
(Sorry for ranting, but you know, my parents raised me in the manner that 'manners maketh the man' and I have to agree with them. What is so important about your little digital life that you can't put it aside for a while and concentrate on the one thing that is important in life - living!)
The food in the Central is excellent by the way, and you know what? they stabbed and shovelled and I don't even think they tasted a morsel of it - their minds were elsewhere.
This sort of abberent, downright rude behaviour has (based on my observations) been going on for at least 7-odd years (since the release of the first iPhone) but it is the relevance to now that makes it interesting - you see it (and I am not just pigeonholing iPhones here, it is every smartphone, tablet, whatever) isn't just an all-in-one comms device/entertainment centre and digital totem, it is a highly portable film maker and above all else a camera, and not a bad one in digital terms. But you'll know that already of course. It has become a metaphorical comfy pair of shoes that you wear everywhere. It is become as ingrained in society as breathing . . infact, it has  probably become more important than anything.
Imagine holding the whole world in your palm. Quite incredible really. But it is all transitory, rather like this Blog. We are at the behest of satellites and servers; of big corporations and prying eyes. We are living our lives based on sequences of 1's and 0's. I say 'we' but only with regard to the fact that I am using Blogger to communicate with you - I don't have a smartphone. I own a £5 Alcatel mobile for emergencies and that is it. It is used for vocal communication and Orange Wednesdays, nothing else.
So where is this rant getting me?
Well, if like me, you are a concerned photographer, you notice cameras! You do don't you?
I can spot a Leica a mile off (and why are they always carried by young Japanese women??) - anyway, I've spotted 3 of those in the last five years. I have seen about 4 standard film SLR's in the last four years. I saw an Olympus Trip in Jedburgh a couple of years back and apart from my cameras, that's about it. Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw someone with a camera? Seriously. A real film camera. Thought so. They're as rare as rocking horse droppings.
I have seen a semi-large-ish number of preposterously big DLSRs - cameras that are as discreet as a bull in your bathroom, and I've seen a tiny number of digi-compacts, mostly used by people over 70. So, given that the visual image is more prevalent today than it has ever been, what is going on?
Well the answer's obvious really.  
Everyone uses a phone to take their snaps. In the words of the most highly annoying advertising device ever invented . . Simples!
The compact camera, the cash-cow of the camera manufacturers who forced us all into this digital hell is as dead and as anachronistic as a quill and ink. That's quite a statement but it is true.
If I were Nikon or Canon I would be deadly worried, because I can see no cameras (apart from yer mucho-expensive, 'professional' ones) being left in a few years. Corporations - you drove us here. You lost the keys to your vehicle and some young whipper-snapper has picked them up and driven off with it! Never in the history of technology has such an own-goal been kicked. Seriously.
And what happens to snaps and photographs now?
Well, rather than being physical prints, lovingly sorted and passed around as objects which become imbued with the patina of time and the oil of fingerprints from long-dead relations, they're quick digital fixes, glanced at, laughed at, maybe revisited a couple of times and ultimately discarded to while away the rest of their lives on a server somewhere, occasionally being rifled by an unknown intruder.
When Facebook or Twitter or Flickr or whoever/whatever start charging for their services and storage, what will happen then? People won't pay. So A MASSIVE CHUNK of human experience (that would at one time have been captured for semi-posterity on bits of sensitized paper) will be deleted from those servers like so many 1's and 0's.
Memories lost. Laughter, tears, truth, hope, strangeness, normality . . all gone like these words too. Consigned to vanishment in the ether like they never were.
And all you people who are looking smugly at the screen thinking 'Aha, Sheephouse, you're wrong . . I'm all backed up on 5 hard-drives' . . don't rest on it. You're digital so you are ultimately vulnerable. Software changes, new standardification of images (are there really going to be JPG's or RAW files in 100 years time?), HDD brown-outs, even EMP's [you never know] . . . 
We'll be back to how it was before the 1850's. What did they look like? How did they dress? What was the life of the normal man like?
And the print? Snaps? There'll be these little seams of people like me (and maybe you) who have made an effort to keep the physical aspect of image making alive - that might be a point of reference.
But will they last Sheephouse?, I hear you cry.
Well let's put it this way - I have many photographs in my house, some approaching 120 to 130-odd years old . . They aren't archivally stored. There's no Bank of Sheephouse holding them in vaults or white-gloved curators whispering in their presence, but they're fine . .
They're not just mine, but from Aunts and relations and even a collection of Victorian Stereoscopic photographs which are a treat, and though languishing in shoe boxes or bags, they'll still be there, until someone at some point in the future decides that they can't deal with so much stuff anymore and ditches them, though maybe keeping one or two as keepsakes. And maybe those keepsakes will go on and someone, somewhere down the line will say. 'Gosh. So that's what he looked like?'
You see - that is the beauty of a physical photograph.



I have a small envelope of prints right next to me. Old and black and white and 1970's colour and they're beautiful. I also have a bag of old slides - all 1960's & 1970's Kodaks - Kodachrome and Ektachrome and they too are beautiful. And that's the point - they exist
I recently read some American commentator saying that he'd interviewed some girl working in a coffee bar in San Francisco, and when he asked her why she made prints and held a disdain for digital photography, she simply replied "Because digital isn't really there."
This stuck with me, and is probably why I am writing this now.
It's human to want to make things.
I make prints. They live and breath, and sometimes I'll take them out and look at them, and sometimes I'll even look at them with pride and say 'That's a good print.'
But at the end of the day they are things I have made in my own little way.
Same with yer family snap - it was/is memory made real.
Do you remember?
Photography used to be an occasion.

'Wait there son, now smile . . .'

'Dad, DAD!! Can I take it. Pllllleaze DAD, pleeeeeeaze!'.

Then the roll was finished and popped in to the Chemists or carefully sealed in those lovely old yellow pre-paid envelopes, and then the heady wait for them to be processed and returned.
It was exciting.
And even though the end results weren't anything to shout about . . some of them were. And those that were were generally saved and maybe placed in an album with love, and then taken out every now and again to remind anyone that wasn't there just what a good time you'd had.
Same with slide shows.
God they could be dull, but God weren't they great!
The endless hours spent loading a Kodak Carousel only to discover the slides were all the wrong way round. The careful movement of the slide/delivery thingy. The drinks and nibbles and laughs.
Your Dad at the helm like A Mad Captain of Vision!
The dust from your living room filtering across the bars of coloured light from the projector. The smell of a hot projector bulb . . . just wonderful. But not now:
A phone passed around if you're lucky.
Check out my wall!
Check my Flickr!
Check my Instagram!
Yr Invited!
Brief, cold and soulless.
A disinterested world.
Constant visual stimulation; images everywhere; the amusing and profane and profound; commonplace as grains of sand. 
Candyfloss and smiles, gross inhumanity and pain. 
So what. Where do you go when there is nowhere else to go?
Photography, image capture, whatever - it pervades our lives in an endless parade.
Everyone is a photographer these days, but no one is making photographs
Very little is made physical - I would hazard a guess at about 90% of it 'existing' in the digital domain.
Have I made you sad? Have I made you realise how important it is to keep on raging against the dying light? I bloody hope so, because as I re-read this I am realising what we are in danger of losing and it is a tragedy of massive proportions.
Surely a bit OTT Sheephouse? They're only snaps.
Yes, but as documentary evidence of this slowly dying culture they are invaluable.
Anyway, the doctors are coming for my soapbox now, so enuff ze nuff.


Below are two prime examples of a time when snaps were quite the thing. They were both made on Kodachrome and they are both as good as the day they were made - not bad considering the first image was made in 1966 and the second around 1968.
I'm going to shut up now and let the images do the talking.



1966




1968

The first is my mother-in-law as a young woman. It was made by my father-in-law on their family camera - a humble Agfa Silette and Kodachrome. I think it is the sort of image you could have seen in Vogue of the same era - she is beautiful and the image is beautiful too . . well I think so.

The second is a very young Sheephouse visiting Loch Lomond. I distinctly remember this photograph being made. I was happy because I had found some discarded fishing hooks. It was made on the Sheephouse family Instamatic, again on Kodachrome . . hairy cardboard mount and all. 
I find it extraordinary how, in both images, the relatively humble lens of each camera has rendered the scenes so well.

And now some prints from a different time when effort was required to photograph things.
These are stereoscopic photographs, rather like those old ViewMaster machines from the 1960's and 70's. It was a popular pastime at the end of the 19th Century.
There's a nice write-up about stereo cameras and prints here
The first is an example of the genre courtesy of the wonderful Underwood & Underwood circa 1890.








Wonderful don't you think, to have the whole world rendered in 3-dimensions in your drawing room!
And just to further my point about the permanence of physical objects - the following four were made by a 'proper' amateur photographer around the start of the 20th Century. Personally, I think they are superb.















And that folks it what it is all about. 
These were given to me by the poet Raymond Frederick Seaford when I was quite young. I loved them then and I love them now. I suppose in a way I have been appointed an unwitting guardian of the life and memories of someone from Middlesex long dead.
They are stored in an old shoe box and when I feel like some stereoscopy, I will bring them out and look at them with care and wonder. 
Not bad for objects created over 100 years ago.
And that I suppose is the point. If no one makes physical prints and the whole digital world goes belly-up (interesting article here) then what is left of everything? 
Who knows what the world was like, or how people lived . . we return to a world as incomprehensible to us as medieaval times. It's a thought isn't it.
Fascinating stuff Captain, as a certain crew member used to say. 
Anyway, now a word from our sponsors:


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Things To Do When It Is Raining

Morning folks - I know, I know . . where have I been?
No doubt you'll have a mind's-eye picture of your intrepid Blogger, stepping out of a train carriage somewhere, camera tucked underneath his arm and steely glint in his eye with the thought towards a photographic expedition . . 
Well it has been all of that, and none of that.
I have been photographing, but I've not been detailing it in the way I have previously for some simple reasons . . the first of which is childish - apart from a handful of kind comments, nobody gets in touch! I am a sociable person, but it often feels like I am firing these blogs out into the ether like orphans . . left to make their own way in a dark world. It is disconcerting!
So say hello . . the contact form at the side makes it easy. 
The comments bit at the bottom makes it easy.
Just saying . . that's all . . nagging over.
The other reason, is that I just plain haven't felt like it actually. 
There. 
Simple.

Anyway, the other thing I have decided on is to try and slim things down. FogBlog became more bloated than a walrus on a cod binge! It was vastly intensive to read. I mean, those of you who have read a lot of the stuff have been brave and sterling - kudos to you, because it took a lot of time (I know, I've re-read them!) and time as we all know is a precious thing, not to be wasted on mere fripperies like a madman's ravings! 
So to that end, at the moment, brevity is hopefully the way and you can leave these pages happier human beans.





Large Format cameras. 
Gosh they're great aren't they? 
You can do almost anything with them, really - you can.
However there are times when they are dashed inconvenient . . in fact . . dare I say it, there are times when I'd rather be toting a tiny point and shoot. 
That comes as a hard thing to say as I love using mine, but at times it's the sheer effort involved that gets me - I average 30 minutes per exposure . . which does seem rather crazy, especially when you see some of the dog's dinner photographs I have made in those countless 30 minutes! 
Not only that, but come Winter, unless you are incredibly brave, strong and fit, and either don't mind being stared at or are happy lugging that gear for miles so you can photograph in peace, then the creative urge to use one of them can get rather hobbled by self-doubt. Add to that the double frustration of your own inabilities/raging at the weather and the timeless LF photographer's cry of: 'Oh God! What's the fucking point!, becomes a poignant and appropriate call to arms!
Oh yes, follow me on any of my expeditions at this time of year and you'll often hear that shout echoing off a hillside somewhere deep in the Glens. 
Frustration is the order of the day, closely followed by the cold
Let me say this,  it is a mugs game trying to adjust a camera properly in a windchill of -15
Add to that the biggest pain of the lot . . . steamed up ground glass . . and you have a tantrum waiting to happen! 
I have at times exited my billowing dark cloth in a hail of swearing only to look at vast clouds of steam falling out of the end of it - the camera on a tripod looks like some strange wood and metal Yosemite Buffalo/Bagpipe beast, snorting and champing in the morning light. 
Well why not hold your breath when you're under there, I hear you say.
Yes, I could hold my breath, but even then the heat from my face is enough to fog everything . . and don't even talk about loupes. 
Look. Don't go there. Right? I've told you already . . just don't munchen it!

Wind
(mph)
Temperature (Celcius)
1050-5-10-15-20-25
105-1-7-13-19-25-31-37
200-6-13-20-27-34-41-48
30-1-9-16-24-31-39-46-54
40-2-10-18-26-34-41-49-57
50-3-11-19-27-35-43-50-58
60-3-11-19-27-35-43-50-58
70-3-10-18-26-34-42-50-57
80-2-10-17-25-33-40-48-56
90-1-9-16-24-31-39-46-54


It is very easy to see from the above that a Large Format photographer's life (at times) is not a happy one - at a temperature of 0°C and a lazy wind of 10 mph you're into serious windchill territory. 
Now factor in that when I go hill walking I regularly encounter 40 mph winds and it starts to get deadly serious . . not least because the camera/dark cloth will start to act as a sail. Try  holding one down in 40mph winds at 3000 feet . . 
Then factor in the cameras construction - I guess the whole reason wooden field cameras are still popular is because of the entirely obvious thing that metal and Winter don't really mix well. 
I've used a Sinar in the field at well below zero, and I can honestly say it is a deeply unpleasant experience
It is a hardy soul who ventures far with a big boy's camera in the Winter - I really marvel at how Ansel Adams and all those wonderful American (and European) LF landscape guys managed/manage.
So where does this leave us?
Grounded and frustrated? Angry and kicking the cat? 
Well no. Just because you can't get out and about doesn't mean you can't do anything.
You can still photograph around the house.
Wot's that? Pictures of furniture or walls, or paint drying?
Well no - over the years I've quite enjoyed setting up little scenes and snapping them. They're not still lifes or found objects (though I like those too) but little Pictorial things. 
They're fun and easy and with a big camera and a wide lens you can adjust to your heart's content.
It's just something different really.


The following two images have three things in common - both were made on the Sinar, both were made in the Autumn/Winter with heavy rain/snow on the ground, and both were made with the tiny, junky, universally dismissed Schneider 90mm Angulon f6.8. 
Two very different images I am sure you'll agree, but it just goes to show what you can do if you put your mind to it. 
I know which I prefer.



Winter Mausoleum




Lazy Afternoon


The first image is of a mausoleum - it was made at 3.30PM on the 27th of December 2009 with HP5 rated at EI 320 and developed in Barry Thornton's 2-bath developer. The stonework was placed on Z VI, but at f22 and accounting for reciprocity, this resulted in an exposure of 145 seconds . . Brrrrrrrrrrrr
Standing around, waiting for time to happen . . triple Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

The second is a self portrait (don't worry, that isn't my bra) made in the afternoon of the 25th October 2009 - I had gone out and been defeated by torrential rain, so had stomped home and set my brain to work.
Film was Adox CHS 100 (the old original version) developed in 1:50 Rodinal for 10 minutes 30 seconds.
I used 9 degrees of front swing and shot wide open at f 6.8. 
It's dreamy and creamy and the film/developer combo is delish! 
I'd focused on a shoe placed in the bed at where my foot would be and had carefully moved it and used a long cable release. 
Result.


So there you go ye men of LF . . be defeated not by weather. Just because it is snowing/raining/pitch black doesn't mean you can't have fun!
In the words of the band Stretch, 'You Can't Beat Your Brain For Entertainment'



Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Ralph Gibson Experiment (Part Three)

Mornin' Maties.
Eggs
Or in the words of me old mate Gollum (the original one, you know the one that has lived in my head since I were young, not the fake New Zealand one):
Eggss's!
Oh yes, Easter is a comin' and there's nothing yer Cap'n likes more than a nice Easter egg. As many as possible so that I can put me ol' seaboots up on my cabin table come Easter morn, give thanks to the Lord and stuff myself full o' Albumen and Yolk.
Chocolate I hear you ask?
Nah, not here.
It gives me the monster-jips. I remember a time when we was runnin' a Brigand full o' Cacau beans down in the Southern Seas - oh yes. Very nasty. But you don't want to hear about that. Suffice to say I can't look a bar o' Lindt in the eye in the same way no more.
Nope, a good ol' hard (or soft) boiled hens egg, and as many as you like.
That does for me at Easter and bless the chicken that lays 'em.
Remember Cool Hand Luke? He's got nothin' on me come Easter Monday.


***


Well, as regular FogBlographers (why didn't I think of that before?) will know, I can drone on with an intensity which could send a caged and smoking lab Beagle to sleep, so today I am going to do something different.
In the words of the world-renowned Buitoni Ravioli TV advert from the early 1970's:
Don't talk . . . Eat!
(Actually, go on, search for a picture of a tin of Buitoni . . I dare you . . you won't find one . . again . . why?)
I am going to let the pictures do the talking and save my fingers the walking.
I will refer new readers back to The Ralph Gibson Experiment Part 1 and The Ralph Gibson Experiment Part 2, in which the whole ludicrous thing is explained, but if you are short of time, here's a précis:
The preface is simple:

Make photographs with a standard shutter speed that does not change and a standard aperture that does not change. All that needs to change is the focus, and even then . . .
Have a standardised processing procedure.
The camera I used is a 1960 Leica M2 - it's as sweet as a nut and I love it. The lens is an uncoated 1934 Leitz 50mm Elmar. It lacks contrast, so to help things, it is also fitted with a FISON lens hood.
The film is developed in a particularly strong solution of Agfa Rodinal (or R09 as it is now known) - Mr.Gibson's objective was to achieve a dense negative, and strangely this has helped me, delivering better results from the rather soft Elmar that are more akin to a modern coated lens.

I'll detail the procedure now:

SHUTTER SPEED: Well Mr.Gibson states his sunny day shooting speed is 1/250th of a second, however this is Scotland (Hoots!) and I chose to use 1/125th of a second, just in case.
APERTURE: Ralph uses a standard f16. He believes this gives his pictures a uniformity. It is a very cleaver move because it removes all faffing around and means you concentrate on the picture. I used f16 for every picture on this film.
FILM: he uses Kodak Tri-X, with EI's ranging from 400 down to 100.
DEVELOPER: Agfa Rodinal (or R09 as it is now known). He uses this at a dilution of 1+25 and a temperature of 68° Farenheit, with a 10 second agitation every 1 minute and 30 seconds, for a total time of 11 minutes.

And that is it.
Simple?
Well yes.
Brilliant?
Well yes, because you are freed of the general process and apart from focusing can make images pretty much on the fly.
My variation on this for this post, is that I had no Tri-X and was down to the last roll of fast film in the house, an expired (November, 2010) roll of Kodak TMY 400.
Because of this, obviously development times were different from Tri-X, so I roughly grabbed a figure out of the air, and settled on 9 minutes, with Ralph's agitation regime. I used 10ml Rodinal to 280ml water in a small Paterson tank. The Massive Development Chart recommends 5 minutes for this combo at EI 400, so this is well over!
The other variation is that for some of the last shots, I took the shutter speed down to 1/15th and 1/60th at f16, simply because the shots were of interiors and through windows. Yes I like the idea of a set speed, but I am not stupid and film is expensive.


Contact Sheet


***


After making two shots at the bus stop, I hit the upper deck of a bus on the way home from work. And as you can see, it has been fine in one shot, but, worried about the unholy way in which the bus was throwing me around and camera shake, I upped the shutter speed to 1/250th and with f16 the combo hasn't worked for shadow detail at all.
The sun was low, but it wasn't exactly dark, but it was a stop too far!
This being said, Frame 3 (the only one at 1/125th) is a corker.
I'll call it The Buddha On The Bus, simply because the rear of the man's head reminds me of Buddha's serene pose.
What isn't seen is his young son, who was running around causing chaos. I think the guy just closed his eyes for a second and assumed this serene pose!



The Buddha On The Bus
The Buddha On The Bus


Now certainly, on my monitor at work, this seems too contrasty, and very dark (and the same for the rest too - you might need to adjust accordingly) but at home and of course in the actual print, there is a nice glow and the subtleties of the shadows work very well.
I am also happy with the fact that it looks kind of weird because of the composition.
Printing-wise, I tried to get as Gibson-esque as possible with this. It was printed on Kentmere Fineprint VC fibre-based paper at Grade 5. Now that is a nominal Grade 5 simply because the paper is really old. Filtration was 130 units of Magenta on my DeVere 504. The lens was the El-Nikkor 50mm f2.8, new version. It looks quite contrasty doesn't it. I think it has almost transformed the look I get from the Elmar, and yet at the left of frame, there is that lovely Elmar OOFA (out of focus area).
I was pleasantly surprised.


***


Cheese



Next up was a grabbed shot in St.Andrews of a Saturday morning. It was one of those things - a whole bunch of people were gathered around this bloke applying window stickers to a bank. It looked quite surreal, so I just set a hyper-focal distance on the Elmar and went in like a sniper, one shot. The chap on the left looks like he has been stuck on, and strangely the shadow inbetween the two men looks like it is something out of Peter Pan, if you know what I mean.
I love the super-cheesy look on the model's face, don't you? and also the fact that someone has smeared the remnants of a 'kerry-oot' over the window near her face . . .
The world's (nearly) richest students?
Come on guys . . . keep yer lovely town clean.
Again, this is on Kentmere and a full-on Grade 5.


***


The next frame I am saving till second last as I am very happy with it. So I'll substitute in this one:



Cardboard Cat
Cardboard Cat



Why on earth someone would have a cardboard cut-out of a cat in their window, I have absolutely no idea! But they did, so I took a not very good picture of it. As you can maybe tell a bit, the film/dev and lens combo have made sterling work of the tracery of the curtain.
Old Elmar's seem to work very well in the medium/close range . . in other words, really, I believe they were optimised for people photography. Too close can be a bit mushy, infinity too, but in the 5 to 10 feet range, marvellous!
This was a Grade 3 print, but I reckon could have done with more, so I gave it a sharpish bath in Potassium Ferricyanide to tickle the highlights up a bit, and it has sort of worked. As I say, I don't think I am getting the full range of grades from the Kentmere paper as it is a number of years old.



***



Self Portrait With Dirt
Self Portrait With Dirt



OK - another one of my dirty window pictures. I tried to get in as close as possible with the Elmar, but I have just mucked it up as the dirt isn't as crisp as I wanted it to be.
This being said I rather like the ominous look of my reflection in this - it suggests something 'other-worldy' if you get my drift. This was a Grade 4 print.



***



Now I am going to shove in the print which should have come before the cat. I love this. 
It was one of those photos: I saw the shop display of the girls whispering, saw the street reflected in the window, and waited till the woman was walking in the right part of the frame and bingo.



Have You Heard About Her?
Have You Heard About Her?


What I just love about this is that you can see the girls whispering to each other "Have you heard about her?" and there she is reflected . . Walls have Ears etc etc.
I did actually print this a tad too dark, so have had to selectively pot-ferry the faces. This was simple enough to do - about half a teaspoon of crystals to about 300 ml of water; mix well; remove print from wash, let its wetness stick it to the back of an empty developing tray and use a shower head to wash the print as you are doing it; then paint the solution onto the areas required and almost immediately wash off - keep repeating till desired lightness is achieved; give print a good final blast of water and pop it back into some film strength fix for a minute or so. 
If results aren't still to your liking, then repeat the procedure. 
It is important to return the print to the fix, and the reason I use film strength is so that the print isn't in the fixing solution for a prolonged period of time..



Sectional Enlargement - 800 DPI


The sectional enlargement of one of the girl's eyes gives you an idea of how big the grain can be with this combo . . it isn't alarming. Also bear in mind that scanning isn't an actual substitute for seeing a print. In the print, the grain is super-crisp and quite a delight.


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And onto my final frame, although it was an extra one, so number 37.
This was taken at Vision - Dundee's 'digital hub'. 13 units to rent, and only 3 occupied. It is a beautiful looking building inside and just the sort of place that should be rethinking its strategy and using its great space for exhibitions and workshops and things. I was so taken by the light and the reflection in the window and also the look of the window through the window and the tree in the car park that I had to make this. It was made by bracing the camera against the window and taking things down to 1/15th. This is easy to do with a Leica as there is no mirror flapping around making a nuisance of itself. I will happily say I love it.



By Evening's Light
By Evening's Light


I made the print darker than I should have and again there has been selective bleaching to the window and the highlights, but I feel it works. It is sort of a 'nature is just waiting to reclaim all this' picture, and I am fond of making such images.
Again, Grade 5 on Kentmere, oh and I forgot to mention - all prints were developed in Kodak Polymax and fixed with Agfa Agefix.


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And that's it folks - hope you enjoyed it.
I suppose it does take a modicum of courage from me to stick the contact sheet at the start - my heart is on my sleeve . . . you can see my rubbish as well as my decent bits, but hey that's walking around with a camera!
Again, any questions or anything, please feel free to ask!
You should have a go at using Ralph's regime - it is surprisingly flexible and gives results which can surprise and please.
As usual, take care, God Bless and thanks for reading.